My sister's best friend had a son who did gymnastics. When he was about 12, he decided that he didn't want to compete any more. For the next year, he slept about half the time, and then shot up nearly a foot. His doctor said that gymnasts aren't gymnasts because they're small, they're small because they're gymnasts. Fortunately for this boy, he quit early enough that his body could recover and reach its full genetic potential. You have to wonder how many of those little Olympians who start in childhood and compete hard during their teens, would have been tall adults if they'd chosen a different sport.
The "winner takes all" (or the few who make it to the top levels take all) aspect of competitive sports is one of the reasons why I dislike it. I can't watch it without thinking of all the young people who get told that you will make if you give it your all, gave it their all and just weren't the 0.5% who are able to make it pro. Some sports aren't as bad but others require 100% dedication from a very young age (gymnastics, for example) in a way that I think is harmful to them, whether or not they ever make it to national level. School is often neglected or there is little time for friendship, leisure or finding themselves as people, not just gymnasts. It requires that 12 year olds train while barely recovered from injuries.
That's really interesting. I wonder what it is about the training that keeps people small?
My brother and I were both on the small side when we were young children. Always the front row in class pictures, that sort of thing. Not usually the smallest person in class, but near it. When he was in 9th grade, he joined the golf team and was the shortest boy on it. He didn't have the arm length or power for good drives, but he was very, very talented at the short game (putting and other shorter shots, basically). He had the precision down pat. He took his 10th grade year off golf and played other sports, but decided to go back to golf in 11th grade. Well, he'd shot up something like a foot, just like the gymnastics boy, and instead of being 5'2" and the shortest boy on the team, he was 6'0" and one of the taller ones. He said it was like learning a whole new game, because he'd lost his "feel" with his added length. He became a powerful driver, but it took him years to relearn the precision he'd had in the short game because he was getting used to how long his arms and legs were again! I don't think in his case that the golf limited his size at all, though, it was just a teen boy growth spurt. (Not really relevant, but I also ended up tall in the end--I never "shot up" suddenly, just kept growing when most girls stopped.)